Wilcox 'not ready, not comfortable' enough to return yet

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Wilcox 'not ready, not comfortable' enough to return yet

BOSTON -- Chris Wilcox has waited long enough.

The Boston Celtics big man underwent season-ending heart surgery in March and watched his teammates fight for a title from courtside seats.

After months of rehab, he re-signed with the Celtics this summer and was poised to make his comeback. However, his return has been delayed due to back spasms.

"I'm not ready, I'm not comfortable right now," he said prior to Tuesday's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. "When my strength and my conditioning get where they need to be, then I'm going to get back out there. I don't want to go back out there too early and then sit out again. I want to make sure this time when I come back, I'm ready."

Wilcox's comeback will be a process. He is currently able to exercise on the treadmill, do light lifting, and recently returned to basketball activities. He also receives a bevy of treatments, from stim to heat packs, stretching to massages.

"You name it, I'm getting it," he said.

Wilcox underwent an MRI following the Celtics return from Europe, but cannot undergo any more at this time because his body was exposed to radiation with previous tests for his heart.

While his patience will pay off in the long run, it is challenging for him to continue playing the waiting game. He has not suited up since March 7. Now he joins his teammates on the bench, knowing he will not be able to step on to the court just yet.

"The hardest part right now is just sitting out watching," said Wilcox, continuing, "The main thing is just being around the game, being around the guys is like motivation to just keep me going. It's tough when I'm not around and I don't see it, then I have to see it on TV.

"It's better just to be around the guys because it kind of keeps my mind off of just sitting around and things like that. But it's definitely tough for me. I want to be out there. I think I've been watching long enough."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”